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Tuipulotu Lai signs letter of intent to play football at BYU

By Staff | Jan 2, 2020

Maiki Viela watches as Tuipulotu Lai signs a letter of intent to play football for the Division I Brigham Young University Cougars. The 6’2”, 280-pound defensive end was a three-time All-MIL selection and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year.

LAHAINA – The ascension of Lahaina grown Tuipulotu Lai to a college football pathway to Division I Brigham Young University speaks volumes to the integrity of the West Side community. That climb was culminated last week as he signed a letter of intent to attend BYU and compete for the Cougars football team.

Over his four years as a student-athlete at Lahainaluna High School, Lai was an integral factor on the Luna defense, which has consistently topped the Maui Interscholastic League and propelled the program to four consecutive Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II state championships.

A 6’2“, 280-pound defensive end, he was a three-time All-MIL selection and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year. At season’s end, he was selected to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s All-State Team.

Throughout his years at Lahainaluna, Lai displayed not only outstanding athletic ability, but more importantly, the character and integrity that defines championship football programs.

He will graduate with a 3.2 grade point average and a reputation of determination and effort that represents not only the school but the West Side community as well.

Athletic Director Scott Soldwisch was present for Tuipulotu Lai’s pledge to attend Brigham Young University.

Lunas Co-head Coach Dean Rickard said, “Tui served as a great example of what the Lahainaluna football program is all about. He has demonstrated an unquestionable work ethic, leadership qualities and intense discipline on the field. But more importantly was the way he carried himself off the field, in school with his work ethic in the classroom, and in the community.

“You’ll always hear people say how Tui Lai is responsible, courteous, friendly and a pleasant person to talk to – compliments any parent or coach would be proud to hear. He epitomizes what it means to be a student-athlete at Lahainaluna and serves as a great example to all younger players as to what is expected to succeed.

“Tui was never close to being academically ineligible as a student-athlete, and his message is simple: if you are willing to put in the time and effort, great opportunities will present themselves. These attributes will serve him well during his college journey and throughout life. He has a clear understanding of what his goals are, and his maturity, intelligence, leadership qualities and work ethic will assuredly keep him on the right path to achieve them,” he continued.

“We are very proud of Tui and all of his well-deserved accomplishments. We congratulate him and wish him nothing but the best moving forward,” concluded Coach Dean.

Elated with the opportunity with BYU, Tui will set his goals on a major in business and a position on the defensive line for the Cougars.

“I am so happy with this chance to go to such a beautiful place for college. And I am so thankful for my life in Lahaina, for all the people – like Coach Lanny Tihada, Miss Kristy Arakawa (LHS College and Career Counselor), Laurie Tihada and so many others – and all the coaches guiding me in the right direction. Thank you for this life that just seems like it was meant to be – to change you in a good way no matter where you come from. This is such a beautiful community,” he said.